Today, Pop Art is one of the most instantly recognisable forms of art. The influence and mark of pop art artists can be seen in almost every aspect of our modern society. At first glance, Pop Art might seem to glorify popular culture by elevating soup cans, comic strips and hamburgers to the status of fine art on the walls of museums. Pop Art focused on mass production, celebrity and the expanding industries of advertising, TV, radio and print media. Ultimately, it shaped a completely new cultural identity in the field of art and design. The art movement aims to elevate popular culture to the level of fine art, thus blurring the lines between high and low arts.
Campbell’s Soup, Marilyn Monroe, Coca-Cola and words like ‘whaam’ are some examples of Pop Art. If they aren’t enough of an indication, you can spot a Pop artwork pretty easily as they are bright and bold in colour. But while easily recognisable, artists such as Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein exhibited their own, unique style.
There is a pop art gallery in Singapore created by Social Creatives, which you do not need to pay any entry fee to visit, and that is located at Block 8 Holland Avenue, a HDB property in Queenstown estate. I was pretty excited about the exploration because I love bold pop art and just about any image inspired by it. The conclusion of the visit was that I found it so fascinating. Basically the paintings are spoofs of renowned pop art artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring added in with certain Singapore elements. The artists gave the artwork there a uniquely singaporean twist, so don’t be surprised to see words like “aiyoo” and “sedap” too. There are a few reasons why i personally like Pop Art which are elaborated as you browse the collection of photos below. See if you agree.
Upon entering the gallery from the covered walkways, you might experience a surge of excitement as you are welcomed by these electrifying colours and eccentric composition.
These images are Keith Haring’s Retrospect which evoke the comic books and cartoons that first sparked the young artist’s interest in art. Each frame contains one of his signature icons from his career, from the androgynous dancing figure, to the guardian angel, the barking dog or the radiant baby.
In the alphabet of picture-words developed by Keith Haring, each recurring image carries its own set of meanings. Some we already know well, such as Haring’s “radiant baby,” which is a symbol of the future and perfection. Others are just as prevalent but still not completely understood.
Pop Art is cheerful. Usually pop art deals with bold colors, fun subjects and wild design. Rather then put you in state of depression, pop art is typically an uplift experience that might just bring a smile to your face.
Andy Warhol, the Pop art icon who hardly needs an introduction, worked as a commercial illustrator before exploring a career as an artist. He was therefore familiar with the mass production of imagery, something that he brought to his art as he employed assistants to help him increase productivity. In fact, a number of Warhol’s artwork are produced in multiples, such as his recognisable 'Marilyn Diptych’. Multiples of the same image on a single canvas highlighted the industrial nature of his work and still inspires contemporary artists today.
Pop Art has no hidden meanings to decipher. Sure complex artwork is intellectually challenging and fun when you have the inside scoop on the hidden meanings and symbolism behind the work but often one attends a modern art exhibit and leaves with the feeling the joke is on the ticket buyer. Pop Art eliminates by simply presenting itself honestly and openly. No hidden meanings except perhaps making a statement on our commercialized world. Pop Art simple states that art is part of the overall commercialism and isn’t somehow above it.
Pop Art has a sense of humor. Artist dealing with everyday objects and elevating them to something worth of hanging on a museum wall have to have a wicked sense of humor. And the nice thing is the public is invited in on the fun.
If you’re a fan of comic books, Roy Lichtenstein is your man. Lichtenstein’s work is characterised by the use of the Benday dot system which is used in comics and newspapers. Utilising almost exclusively primary colours, Lichtenstein incorporated imagery from popular culture and everyday life into his works.
Roy Lichtenstein built a significant body of work from mass-reproduced images, which provoked endless debates over the notions of originality, consumerism and explored the fine line between art and entertainment. This was exactly one of the highlighted principles of Pop Art which dwelled on an exploration of all forms of communication and messages through codes or language.
If you could recall, the word "Boomz" was first coined by Ris Low, ex-Miss Singapore World 2009, during an interview with Strait Times Razor TV.
How would you define what Pop Art is, and what does it represent for you? To me, Pop Art pieces are not mere reproductions of objects and advertisements. Each piece is infused with clever wit, irony, and a subtle message that became apparent to the observer. Sometimes it was revealed through the isolation of the item from its usual environment, and sometimes it was more obvious with text or contextual clues. What is especially important about this half-century old movement is that its impact is still as vital and visible as ever, since each era’s generation of young artists has been influenced by its own unique forms of popular culture.
I have never came across something so whimsical and awesome as part of Singapore void deck's permanent deco. Because Pop Art is tied to the material culture of many countries, it remains as flexible and important as ever. Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and successive generations have adapted new media technologies and interests into their artworks, following the trail of the artists represented in this void deck. For this reason, Pop Art’s influence will be felt for years to come and I feel that more void decks should definitely be splashed with legitimate art displays and paintings for a vibrant happy living environment.
Don't you think so?